The course descriptions below are correct to the best of our knowledge as of April 2016. Instructors reserve the right to update and/or otherwise alter course descriptions as necessary after publication. The listing of a course description here does not guarantee a course’s being offered in a particular semester. The Course Rotation Guide lists the expected semester a course will be taught. Please refer to the published schedule of classes for confirmation a class is actually being taught and for specific course meeting dates and times. In addition to the courses listed in the Bulletin and courses approved after April 1, SPH degree candidates may register for a directed (independent) study with a full-time SPH faculty member. For more information, speak with your faculty advisor or a staff member in the SPH Registrar’s office.

  • SPH PM 818: Health Information Technology
    Graduate Prerequisites: SPH PM702
    This course provides students with the knowledge and skills to evaluate and manage information technology in heath care organizations. In particular it focuses on the role of IT in driving organizational change and supporting quality improvement and elimination of medical errors. Topics include electronic health records, computerized provider order entry, interoperability, management decision support, and provider pay for performance. The perspective of the course is that of the chief information officer (CIO) and other managers and users of health care information systems, not that of the technical specialist. The course will consist of a series of lectures, cases, and discussions, some of which will be led by guest lecturers who are experts in the field of health care information technology and systems. Course requirements include a quiz, a 10-page paper, and a class presentation. The class meets at the Charles River Campus with GSM HM817 on the GSM schedule.
  • SPH PM 821: Advanced Health Services Research Methods
    Graduate Prerequisites: BS723 or consent AND PM811
    This course builds on SPH PM811 by providing advanced methods and their applications to studies of health care outcomes, quality, and economics. Methods covered include: advanced measurement techniques such as item response theory and applications through computer adaptive testing, selecting the research design, meta-analysis, advanced statistics applied to grant proposals, and econometric methods using instrumental variables. Students develop an original paper based upon a secondary data analysis.
  • SPH PM 824: Theory & Research on Organizations
    Graduate Prerequisites: MS or PhD candidate in health services research degree program or consent
    The purposes of this course are first to develop the students' understanding of major theoretical perspectives on health care organizations, and second to develop their abilities to apply these theories to conduct theory-based research on health care organizations. The course achieves this understanding through an in-depth review of contemporary literature addressing each major theoretical perspective and through written assignments and discussions of the contrasts among the major theoretical perspectives on organizations. To develop their abilities to apply the theories, students also design organizational research based upon the different theories.
  • SPH PM 826: Health, Illness, and the Use of Health Services
    Graduate Prerequisites: PM814 or consent
    This course provides an introduction to social science research relating to patients' engagement with health services. Its goal is to develop critical understandings of how people perceive a need for health services, seek them, engage in transactions with health care providers as "patients" and live with the outcomes of care. The central theme is patient-centered health care as a basis for inquiry in health economics (e.g., consumer behavior, decision making) and health care quality and outcomes (e.g., approaches to chronic illness care, shared decision making).
  • SPH PM 827: Strategic Management of Healthcare Organizations
    Graduate Prerequisites: SPH PM702 or IH704 or SAR HP353 (for non-concentrators)
    This course examines key strategic issues that healthcare organizations face that affect their competitive position and performance. Through the course students learn to select and apply analytic frameworks from economics, management, and law to resolve these strategic issues. Students develop skills in strategic planning and management that includes industry and competitive analysis.
  • SPH PM 828: Advanced Seminar in Qualitative Research Methods for Health Services Research
    Graduate Prerequisites: SPH SB818 or GMS MA 710 or consent of instructor.
    This course will focus on the use of qualitative methods in understanding outcomes of care, such as patient-centered perspectives on illness and health care; processes of care, such as doctor-patient interactions and communication; and the organization of care, such as the impact of different organizational structures on the quality of care. Students will develop skills in the use of qualitative methods in health services research, including the procedures of focus groups, the use of in-depth interviews, naturalistic observations of health care practices, and ethnographic studies of health care organizations and client communities. The course is part of the PhD program in Health Services Research, but will be of interest to other students who wish to learn about utilizing qualitative methods in their research.
  • SPH PM 830: Developing Patient-Based Health Status and Outcomes Measures
    Graduate Prerequisites: SPH PM811 or consent
    Contemporary health services research relies heavily on patient-based measures of health status and other outcomes of health care. This course covers development and application of health status constructs to be measured, scope and content of questionnaires, qualitative and quantitative methods of scale development and validation, and new assessment methodologies including Item Response Theory and Computer Adapted Testing. Practical issues of deciding if and when to develop a new measure, as well as selecting and applying measures in designing health outcomes research are addressed.
  • SPH PM 831: Implementation Science: Linking Research to Practice
    Graduate Prerequisites: For Health Services Research students who have completed the MPH biostatistics core course or the equivalent; others with permission of instructor prior to registration
    A major gap exists in health services research between what is known about interventions and the actual use of those interventions in practice. Often, interventions shown effective in the research setting do not translate in the real world. Implementation science focuses on developing methods to ensure that evidence‐based models are effectively translated to the clinical setting. The course focuses on the complex concepts of implementation science, including the wide range of theoretical frameworks and approaches driving the field. Students will also learn about different models of implementation research, its strengths and limitations, and develop an implementation research study proposal.
  • SPH PM 832: Operations Management in Health Care
    Graduate Prerequisites: The MPH biostatistics and health policy and management core courses
    This course is designed to focus on the field of operations management (OM) in healthcare. Students will learn to apply OM principles to develop more effective operational processes, mitigate risks, and improve quality. Discussions from the text, case studies and assignments will focus on strategies and techniques of quality improvement processes, project management, work-flow and system design, and capacity planning. Additionally students will explore the intricacy, complexity and dynamics of logistics in healthcare. An industry based project will enable students to engage and implement several of the tools learned in class.
  • SPH PM 833: Health Economics
    Graduate Prerequisites: SPH PM702 or consent of instructor.
    This course develops the tools of basic microeconomic analysis and applies them to key health policy issues. It emphasizes the trade-offs involved in various choices within the health care economy, with particular attention to examination of issues related to the debate between pro-market and government regulatory approaches to health care policy. Topics include the role of risk and uncertainty in health and health care, the industrial organization of the health care sector, and how payment systems affect the incentives and behavior of patients, insurers, and providers.
  • SPH PM 834: Health Regulation and Planning
    Graduate Prerequisites: SPH PM702 or consent of instructor.
    Failures of competitive markets in health care have sparked public planning and regulation. But these, in turn, have not been very successful in addressing problems of access, cost, appropriateness/quality, or caregiver configuration. Examining cases of persisting health problems such as childhood lead poisoning and quality of nursing home care, this course dissects what has worked and why. We examine ways to quantify harm caused by a problem, analyze causes of the harm, develop policies and programs to address those causes, and analyze the efficacy, cost, political feasibility, and managerial feasibility of specific programs. Each student prepares a realistic plan to ameliorate harm to people's health caused by a persisting threat.
  • SPH PM 835: Lean Management in Healthcare
    Graduate Prerequisites: PM702 or IH704 and the biostatistics core course are required.
    This course is designed to prepare students to plan and successfully implement lean management driven processes in health care organizations. It teaches lean principles and provides the opportunity to complete a lean managed project. It therefore uses a blended format that includes a week long intensive program for training on lean concepts and tools, followed by a semester long field work on a quality improvement project using lean methodology with online and personal support.
  • SPH PM 837: Evaluating Health Care Quality
    Graduate Prerequisites: SPH PM702 or PM814 or consent of instructor.
    The purpose of this class is to provide a scientific basis to quality measurement. Topics include reliability and validity of measures, implicit versus explicit reviews, provider profiling, and the role of risk-adjustment. The course also covers applications of quality measures in health care today. Examples are drawn from various settings including acute care, long-term care, and ambulatory care. Readings are mostly based on articles in the health services research literature.
  • SPH PM 838: Health Politics and Policy
    Graduate Prerequisites: SPH PM702.
    This course is designed to help students understand political dynamics of health policy making at the state level and to develop practical skills required for effective work as policy advocates. Analytic models, case studies, guest speakers, and in-class exercises promote a practical understanding of how ideas succeed, or fail, to become law.
  • SPH PM 840: Analysis of Current Health Policy Issues
    Graduate Prerequisites: SPH PM702 and the biostatistics and epidemiology MPH core course requirements.
    The purpose of this course is to arm students with the skills to debate, define, and defend health policy proposals. We will explore, in depth, several current health policy problems. The course will take an analytic case approach, identifying policy options and tools, then gathering information and applying data to evaluate outcomes, costs; winners and losers. Methods for finding and accessing information on the Internet are emphasized. This is a capstone course meant to be taken in the student's last semester.
  • SPH PM 842: Health Economics for Health Services Research
    Graduate Prerequisites: SPH PM702 or PM814, one semester of calculus or consent of instructor.
    This course provides an understanding of principles of microeconomics and applied microeconomic analysis of public health policy issues sufficient to comprehend and conduct health services research. The over-arching philosophical issues facing the post health care reform world and the arguments defining the debate between pro-market and government regulatory approaches are addressed. The main focus is on domestic health economics; however, analytic methods developed in the course are applicable to foreign health care systems. Students may not take both PM833 and PM842 for degree credit.
  • SPH PM 844: Health Policy and Policy-making for Public Health Researchers
    Graduate Prerequisites: For doctoral students in the health services research program. Othersonly with instructor approval.
    This doctoral level course will offer students in the Health Services Research program an in-depth look at major health policy debates. Particular attention will be paid to the factors affecting policy making and the role of scholarship in this process. The role of public health in policy debates or the lack thereof will be an ongoing theme throughout the semester. The course begins with a foundation on the policy making process at the federal, state, and local levels. Using these tools, students will examine the history of health reform in America and abroad, including the development and implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the challenges and opportunities of payment and delivery reforms, the role of the Veteran's Health Administration, and mental and behavioral health. Students will apply theoretical concepts from the opening weeks to produce multiple types of deliverables about an issue of their choosing, including a blog post translating academic research for a broad policy audience, a literature review intended for researchers or potential funders, a manuscript in the style of a New England Journal of Medicine perspective intended for journalists and anyone participating in policy debates, and legislative testimony intended for policymakers.
  • SPH PM 850: Consumer Organizing and Advocacy for Health System Change
    Graduate Prerequisites: None.
    This course focuses on bringing change to our health system using consumer participation and advocacy. The course emphasizes the practical applications of capacities such as organizing and policy analysis to influence health policy particularly at the institutional, local, and state levels. Using the lens of policy change campaigns, we will learn about the major areas of an effective campaign, such as grassroots organizing, policy analysis, communications and stakeholder engagement. Extensive use of recent case examples ground the class in the current issues faced by community groups and other health interests in a rapidly changing health system. In this course, students will learn to distinguish the interest of consumers from providers, insurers and others groups working in the health care system. They will develop an understanding of the organizations that represent consumer interests and how organizing and advocacy can impact policy development. Students will learn theories of policy change as well as elements of an advocacy strategy and begin to apply those elements to real world political situations.
  • SPH PM 855: Cost Effectiveness Analysis and Decision Analysis
    Graduate Prerequisites: SPH BS703 and PM814. Students may not take PM807 and PM855 for degreecredit.
    This course offers an introduction to the uses and conduct of cost-effectiveness analyses (CEAs) as decision making aids in the health and medical fields. It provides students with an understanding of the roles and limitations of CEAs and criteria for evaluating these studies. Important theoretical and practical issues encountered in measuring costs and effectiveness, evaluating outcomes, discounting, and dealing with uncertainty are discussed. Discussions on framing and reporting of CEAs focus on the purpose of the analysis and the effective communication of its findings. Case studies demonstrate the use of CEAs in the areas of prevention, drug treatment, and new technologies. Students who take PM855 should not enroll in PM807.
  • SPH PM 940: Health Policy and Management Culminating Experience
    Graduate Prerequisites: HPM concentrators in their final semester who have completed their Management or Policy & Planning distribution requirement.
    Health Policy and Management concentrators must complete a culminating experience in their final semester of registration. To document their work on the culminating experience, concentrators must register for SPH PM940, a zero-credit, pass/fail course. For more details on the requirements for the culminating experience, please see the Concentrator Guide for the concentration.